The effect of beta adrenergic blocking drugs on speakers' performance and memory

Br J Psychiatry. 1983 May:142:512-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.142.5.512.


Propranolol 40 mg was compared with a matched placebo tablet in its effect on the performance of anxious and non-anxious human volunteers. Subjects were required to give a brief speech, which was video-taped and later rated by trained observers for signs of anxiety; propranolol clearly reduced rated anxiety in the non-verbal behaviour of anxious subjects, as well as the anxiety observed in the speech of the anxious compared to the non-anxious. It also affected self-reported anxiety in the anxious, and reduced the pulse rate of anxious and non-anxious alike. Subjects were also prompted, by being given the first letter, to recall both difficult and easy words, drawn from selected verbal categories; propranolol impaired recall of difficult items in the memory of anxious subjects. Results were interpreted as showing a central as well as peripheral role for propranolol in blocking adrenergic receptors' activity in anxiety.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Speech / drug effects


  • Propranolol